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Withstand a CEO’s wrath–and win

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Brian Hasenbauer entered the room on a high. As vice president of marketing for indoorDIRECT, an advertising firm, Hasenbauer and his team had just completed a proposal for a big project on behalf of a client.

First, they had to present their proposal to indoorDIRECT’s brain trust. So they confidently explained their project in the executive conference room—with the CEO and CFO seated across the table.

After they finished, the CEO deemed it “terrible” and insisted that it “totally missed the mark.” What’s worse, the senior leadership turned to Hasenbauer’s marketing team and started scolding them for their poor work.

Hasenbauer interrupted the CEO to stop him from continuing to lambaste his marketing staff. He said, “You can take up any and all issues related to the project not meeting your expectations with me.”

Hasenbauer added they would try again and draft a better plan. He promised his team would work nights and weekends to make that happen.

When Hasenbauer finished, silence blanketed the room. Finally, the CEO switched from disapproval to acceptance and said, “I get it. Let’s you and me get together in my office and discuss what we can do to salvage this.”

By admitting failure and committing to a better outcome next time, Hasenbauer earned the CEO’s respect. He also won over his team by standing up for them.

— Adapted from “Integrity,” Brian Hasenbauer, www.brianhasenbauer.com.

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